Hit Machine’s Journey From the Disabled List to the World Series
By Scott Andes
As we continue to document the Dodgers Baseball seasons, we’ve had several side stories that have continued throughout this year. One of these side stories has been the Journey of Hit Machine, (Rafael Furcal) from the Disabled List to the World Series. It’s been quite a ride for HM this year. Who is Rafael Furcal? Hit Machine is our beloved shortstop for over 6 seasons with the Dodgers. Originally signed in 2006 from Atlanta, he was with the Dodgers until this past July 31st, when he was traded to the Cardinals for double AA outfielder Alex Castellanos.
Hit Machine is the shortstop I had most coveted during the 2005 season when we were completely desperate for a shortstop. After watching guys like Antonio Perez, Cesar Izturis, and Olmedo Saenz flail away, we wished upon a star for a shortstop that could ya know, play baseball.
Our wishes were granted when the Dodgers signed HM for the 2006 season. Over the next 6 plus years, Hit Machine blessed us with his amazing range, strong throwing arm, and vibrant bat.
Despite being injured often Hit Machine was one of the best shortstops we had ever seen in our lifetimes as Dodger fans. Not only is HM a great shortstop, but he’s an even better person. Often times contributing huge amounts of money to his home town of Loma De Cabrera, Dominican Republic. Apparently HM has single handedly sponsored charities, contributed funds to build homes, and even funded the building of a brand new fire truck. When the small town desperately needed help, they would often turn to Hit Machine.Hit Machine helps build a firetruck During early June of 2010, Hit Machine’s father passed away. Furcal left the team for a week and was placed on the bereavement list. Once he returned, he went on a tear like we have never seen. The understandably emotionally distraught Hit Machine took out all his emotions on National League pitching, which is a good way of taking out your aggressions! And boy did he ever! Furcal destroyed the league that month batting .362 and collecting 17, yes 17 multi hit games during a 30 day stretch, earning him National league player of the month honors, his new moniker as Hit Machine, and our permanent admiration.
At the start of the 2011 season, we had high hopes for Furcal during his final year on his contract. We knew with speedster phenom Dee Gordon waiting in the wings, this could be Hit Machine’s final hurrah with the Dodgers. It was a rough start for Raffy. He broke his thumb in early April, and then tore an oblique in June. He was on the DL for most of the season. In July he returned to the Dodgers for what would be his final stretch of games. One of his last games with the Dodgers was a walk-off hit at Dodger Stadium against the Nationals.
Hit Machine’s Walk-Off Hit Game Recap
Sadly this would be one of his final games wearing Dodger Blue. The very next week he was traded to the Cardinals. As we said a very sad farewell to our beloved shortstop, the journey didn’t end for Hit Machine. After he cleaned out his locker (he was very torn about leaving the Dodgers according to various sources) he joined the redbirds and into a pennant race. He wasn’t the only ex Dodger to wear a Crimson Cap. The Cardinals were already chock full of former useless Dodger castoffs like Ryan “TOOTBLAN” Theriot and Octavio Bumtel. But Hit Machine doesn’t fit into the category with those useless players. Hes really in a category and league of his own. Furcal found himself in the middle of a playoff race, and as the Red Birds made their historic run to the world series championship by winning the wild card on the final day of the season, Hit Machine was an important part of that run.
Hit Machine kept up his solid play during the playoffs for the Cardinals. In game 5 of the division series against Philadelphia, he tripled and scored the winning and only run of the game, and also made several great defensive plays to help the Cardinals advance to the NLCS, and vanquish the evil Phillies from the playoffs.
Hit Machine also homered in game 6 of the NLCS helping the Cards beat the Brewers to advance to the World Series. As the Cards played the Rangers for the championship, we couldn’t help but root for him. We were happy to watch Hit Machine bring a world series ring to his native town of Loma De Cabrera. He deserves one. The 34 year old former all-star will never be forgotten and will forever be in our memories for his contributions to the Dodgers. Furcal signed a two year 14 million dollar deal with the Cardinals after the 2011 season.
We miss you Hit Machine, We will miss you……..GO BLUE